Each time you stay present with fear and uncertainty, you’re letting go of a habitual way of finding security and comfort.
~ Pema Chodron
I can’t exactly pinpoint where this is from, but I do remember recently reading that, sometimes, we have to learn to live in the “grey space.” Those words resonated very deeply and transcended into one of those ‘aha’ moments that crystallized a particular truth.
Life is composed of changes and unknowns through and through; we can’t ever truly predict what will come our way in the years ahead.
And now, zoom in on a transitional period (such as graduating from college, being in between jobs or relationships, or just deciding exactly what it is that you want), and the grey space never appears quite as bold and present. (Trust me; I’ve had my share of moments where stress mode ensued.)
Since this realization can induce fear or acceptance, I choose acceptance. I choose to embrace this anti-black and white area of being, and I’ve found other writers who have taken that road as well.
Erin Smith discusses her experience of being at a crossroads: “I was unhappy with my job, no longer wanted to be living at home, I was tired of being three states away from my boyfriend, and I was sick of feeling unfulfilled,” she said. She felt stuck in a state of limbo, waiting for an alternative path to appear and lead the way — until she realized that she had to be the catalyst for change herself. In one of her college courses, she was taught to see uncertainty via a different lens.
“We often interpret the unknown as bad or scary, but it is all in the viewer’s perception,” Smith said. “Just as you can choose to see the glass half full instead of empty, you can choose to view the future as brimming with possibilities instead of emptiness. I still have frequent panic attacks in which I fear that I am unemployable and worry that I will not find a job; however, that is when I breathe and remind myself of how much I accomplished already.”
Leigh Fortson, author of Embrace, Release, Heal talked about living with uncertainty in a 2011 Psychology Today post. She talks about how she’s been situated in the ‘house of uncertainty’ time and time again, due to her rollercoaster ride of medical issues, including three cancer diagnoses. “The house of uncertainty is typically dark, imploding and cold,” she writes. “It’s frightening to be there. But when there are no quick and definitive answers, uncertainty is where we often find ourselves.”
For Fortson, being more mindful of beauty and fostering love aids her unsettling emotional tendencies. She deliberately pauses to notice the light on the clouds or the beautiful growth of her children. When she basks in beauty and love, uncertainty isn’t as daunting. It just is; it becomes her home, comfortable and livable.
Living in grey space might promote feelings of restlessness, or even the temptation to go down comparison lane, noting how all your friends or acquaintances ‘have it together.’ But, I’m realizing that it’s okay not to know what’s on the horizon. Thought Catalog blogger Kovie Biakolo said: “When you’re a twenty-something, it’s a period of figuring out everything. But now, more than ever, when our responsibilities and obligations are for many of us, mostly to ourselves, maybe it’s a good time to learn how to just be.”
Oh, let it be. I think The Beatles might know a thing or two about that.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Jul 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Suval, L. (2013). Living in the Grey Space. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 3, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/08/01/living-in-the-grey-space/